Panthology One was published by Spartacus in Amsterdam in November 1981. It was the first of a series of sixteen anthologies of "stories about boy-love", of which its immediate successors were published by Spartacus’s new special boy-love imprint, The Coltsfoot Press. The stories are by various authors, but all the volumes were edited by the American writer Frank Torey (1928-96). This article serves as both a synopsis and a review of the first volume’s content. The original list of contents is represented in brown.
Contents, Synopsis and Review
The first Panthology was published at a moment in time of unusual hope for those drawn to Greek love, at least as regards continental northern Europe, where they were free from repression to a degree not seen since the triumph of Christianity in the Dark Ages. Nowhere was this more true than of Amsterdam, where it was published, a city where the law, in so far as it had only a few years earlier persecuted consensual Greek love, was a dead letter, the police declining to bring charges without parental insistence, and the judiciary and much of the public being sympathetic. Though foreseen by few, all this was almost immediately to start changing steadily for the worse, which lends a peculiar poignancy to reading the book today. The stories included in this and all the later volumes were very varied in quality, but even the poorer ones are lent a special importance by their being the first free expression in print of feelings and ideas that had been silenced for centuries and were soon to be silenced again. This is so much so that there is perhaps a danger of these authors being thought to speak for Greek love in all ages. This, however, would be a grave mistake, as a cursory study of its practice in other societies that allowed its expression, far removed as these were in time and space, will quickly remind the reader that many of the assumptions and ideas presented here were peculiar to Europe and the English-speaking world of the late twentieth-century.
7 Camping Out / Steven Wood
Steve, the Camping Leader for a Boys’ Club is entrusted with Lant, the stunning putative son of a viciously reactionary judge among the group of 11- to 14-year-olds he takes camping in Yorkshire. Lant proves as forward as he is irresistible, while Steve’s young assistant Barry is too pushy in having his way with another of the boys, leading to serious trouble Steve manages to defuse with the help of a surprising revelation from Lant. Well-written and entertaining. PDF.
18 Casuistry and Other Mischiefs / Ian McLaughlin
Twelve very short stories about the interactions of Ian, a London boy-lover, with his nephew and other boys aged nine to fourteen, full of amusing word play and other banter, but not much else. The best one concerns an unexpectedly knowing 12-year-old visiting French chorister he puts up for the night at a dean’s request. PDF.
48 The Black Symposium / J. Darling
A classical scholar’s scintillating rendition of Cassius Dio’s story of the spooky feast which in AD 88 the Roman Emperor Domitian gave to a party of terrified senators: after being in terror of imminent death, they ended the night safely back in their homes, each with the gift on one of the slave-boys who had danced naked before them. Darling’s version, narrated by a senator called Soranus, includes an outstandingly erotic description of the ministrations of the boy attendants at the Oppian Baths, but is ultimately a love story of dream-like beauty and simplicity. PDF.
57 The Silver Pipe Cafe and Other Texts / Hakim
Ten narratives, too short and impressionistic to be called stories, all featuring pubescent boys (several of them prostitutes) and mostly set in the East. PDF.
68 Will O' the Wisp / Alan Edward
12-year-old Chris introduces his pretty friend Dieter, new to England, to his scouting patrol and becomes intensely jealous when Dieter and their Scoutmaster Joe take an obvious interest in each other. He devises a plot to avert their expected first night on their own. Both Chris and Joe get much more than they had dared hope for. A sweet and simple love story. PDF.
74 The Tale of Ahmet, the Treasurer's Son Asger Lund
Three friends marry three sisters and each couple has a son. At fifteen, Ahmet, son of the Treasurer of Shiraz and the nicest sister, is by far the most decent and likeable of the three cousins, besides being the most beautiful boy in the world. The other two are jealous and spiteful to him, just as their mothers were to their more beautiful sister and become towards their nephew when he repels their amorous advances. The three families are invited to Isphahan, so that the boys may compete to show who is most worthy to marry the Sultan’s beautiful daughter. Ahmet’s family has no idea that the other two are bent on their destruction.
Meanwhile in Africa, the most powerful sorcerer dies, leaving an (inevitably) accomplished and handsome 22-year-old foster-son Kemal, whom he has encouraged in thinking his prime purpose in life should be to find perfect love with a boy unrivalled not only in beauty but also in proven love and loyalty to himself. Using magic, Kemal finds this boy to be Ahmet. He goes to Isphahan, they fall in love, and he deflowers the boy, but sticks to his plan to make him prove the depth of his love. Ahmet’s life is saved from his wicked aunts and cousins, but he sees his parents perish and he has to pass tests showing himself incapable and unwilling either to have sex with a beautiful woman to save himself, or to give his love to other men who could, on this condition, rescue him from his life of enslavement in a boy brothel.
This story commands attention as being thrice the length of any of the others. If the book is worthy of critical review at all, then this story must therefore be, even if only intended as light-hearted entertainment. Lund says it is intended to be taken as an imagined addition to the fabled Arabian Nights. In terms of fun and unabashed enthusiasm for erotic adventure it passes, but in another respect it fails badly, and, in doing so, is revealing as to how sadly what often advertised itself as principled “boy-love” in the 20th century fell short of the ideals which historically enabled Greek love to prove its worth.
What would make it stand out like a sore thumb had it really been a story in The Arabian Nights is its overt hostility to and rejection of the love of women. Before Kemal has even met his ideal boy, it is approvingly emphasised that a boy can only be that if he firmly shares Kemal’s absolute lack of interest in the opposite sex. Hence Ahmet is made to prove himself incapable of arousal with an exceptionally beautiful female (even while the author takes salacious delight in acknowledging the boy’s pleasure in being fucked by men in a boy brothel). There are many pederastic tales in the real Arabian Nights, but in none of them will a hint be found of exclusive homosexual orientation, either as a reality or as the ideal Lund makes it. Many a pre-modern parent turned an indulgent blind eye to (or even openly approved of) his son giving himself to a high-minded man who could be trusted to prepare him for social success in a world that everywhere expected boys eventually to find fulfilment in marriage and fatherhood. Such a parent would, however, recoil in utter horror if he knew Kemal’s selfish and irresponsible hopes. I do not mean to suggest that all 20th-century pederasts were guilty of thinking thus: J. Z. Eglinton, author of the first book-length study of Greek love, was notable for saying that exclusive homosexuals were unfitted to be lovers of boys, which I think is pushing the point too far, but Lund’s writing exemplifies an all-too-common trait in modern thinking, and is applied here anachronistically.
On a similar note, can a lover of boys be a paragon of noble thought if he is happy to see his beloved enslaved and used in a brothel just to prove the boy’s love for himself? The likelihood that this is intended as pure fantasy rather than to be taken seriously possibly makes it more eye-opening, for in that case what is surely being revealed is what the writer really longed for rather than what he thought he ought to say he longed for. PDF.
106 Joey's Island / Steven Wood
A Londoner takes Joey, a fairly unfriendly local boy of 11, fishing on a Scottish loch and they are stranded by the wind on a little island, together with Peter, a brutish young man, and Debbie, a young woman Peter is determined to bed. Peter’s aggressive wooing drives Debbie away. The Londoner counsels gentleness, and finds his own dramatically rewarded in a final twist. PDF.
111 Three Temples / Daryl Waters
A man exploring the remoter antiquities of Greece has a series of three spontaneous erotic encounters with local boys of about thirteen, each warmly and quickly responsive to the narrator’s admiring gaze, and takes the last, a goat-herd, to live with him back to England. Gently erotic without being crude. PDF.
119 Klaustrophilia / Casimir Dukahz
Dukahz rents a house in Connecticut for the summer of ’69 to write a novel, but is distracted predictably soon by a Scandinavian beauty of 12 or 13. PDF.
121 Paedophile Daydream / Richard Matera
An American erotic poem, not really “paedophile” at all (14 is mentioned as a minimum age), but unremarkable.
123 Takis / Bob Henderson
An Australian living on a Greek island starts a conversation with Takis, a boy of 13, on a ferry to Athens and is overwhelmed, Takis insisting he stay in his parents’ home and his own bed and later returning his visit. A convincing and amusingly-recounted story republished as the second chapter of the author’s full-length Attic Adolescent.
Contributed by Edmund Marlowe, 2021.
Comments of general interest will be collected at Letters To The Editor (some editing may be involved)
Sam Hall 1 January 2021
The problem with “The Tale of Ahmet” is that it’s in the wrong publication. It’s a gay fable, so rather odd that it formed the centrepiece of an inaugural boylove mag.
Kemal’s gift of sorcery is synonymous with exclusive homosexuality, something his mentor Abdallah reinforces: “Witchcraft and magic ought never to come within reach of women or girls...”
Our gay wizard is “surrounded by a selection of the most beautiful boys in all of Islam” but cannot find true love, a boy who can give him “eternal devotion”, or, as it’s more piously known today, “gay marriage”.
So once he finds Ahmet, a boy of ideal beauty, Kemal sets him upon a stereotypical gay rights of passage. Ahmet is cut off from any connection to his family, is taken in hand by a manipulative fairy who snuffs any hetero-impulses he may have had, and is then sent on a rather gruelling sexual underworld odyssey which seems inspired by 70’s gay bathhouse culture: forging an identity through promiscuous homosex.
The boy’s entire adolescent journey, his sexual awakening and development, is of no interest to Kemal. He’s happy to remain on the sidelines, completely uninvolved, waiting for his idealised finished product. Which he gets in the end: an experienced youth worthy of being admitted to the separatist cabal of gay wizards.
I was reminded of the British TV series Queer as Folk, where 15yo Nathan, confident of his gayness, was trying to work his way into the local gay community. He was met mainly with amused disdain, not taken seriously, not thought capable of being truly gay—get back to us, sonny, when you know your way round a nightclub. Even a gay teenager, it seems, would fare better with a genuine boysexual.
“The Tale of Ahmet” celebrates the modern libel aimed at boysexuals, that they desire to recruit a boy into an underground life of homosexuality. Talk about a misuse of the magic of boyhood.